Food & Drink
Talking Tapas: Brooklyn’s Best Small Plate Nosh-Spots
(Photo: Seared Sesame Crusted Tuna at Beast, via Facebook)
We all get the munchies - be it in the morning or late at night. While your stomach may crave sustenance, it definitely knows a full meal will be too much. So, what is a groaning belly to do? Why, turn to tapas, of course. Tapas provide all the necessities to munchy eating: sharable, flavorful, and perfectly portioned. So, the next time you get an urge for a literal bite to eat, head to these spots for perfect Brooklyn tapas.
Clad in dragon statues and mounted deer heads, this dark, nearly primordial bar is anything but behind the times. Founded in 2005 under chef Deborah Bicknese, Beast (638 Bergen Street, Prospect Heights) provides Brooklyn residents a unique menu that highlights raw, natural foods in season. In addition to dishes from the land and the sky, Beast also soothes late night cravings with earthy, tempting tapas like large cheese boards or snackable spiced almonds.
At Mazzat (208 Columbia Street, Columbia Street Waterfront District) diners can settle in for unique fare that won’t make them regret a snack attack. A fusion of Egyptian and Lebanese cuisine (inspired by the ethnic backgrounds of chefs Jimmy Bakhoum and Robbie Aboughater) allows late night snack seekers to nosh on traditional dishes like babaganouj and tahini parsley dip and take comfort in that they aren’t compromising taste for calories. And for those who like to live on the edge, there are succulent plates like dates wrapped in bacon that you won’t feel too shabby about either.
Even refined folk get the hankering for something to nibble on, but you don’t have to sacrifice class for satisfaction. Brookvin (381 7th Avenue, South Slope) proudly boasts an elegant wine list that pairs perfectly with its cheeseboards and small plates. A small, cozy indoor space is surrounded by a quaint romantic garden, Brookvin will give you and your elegant crowd a comfortable place to wine and dine.
The Naked Dish
Whether it is tapas or a five course meal, what it comes down to is the ingredients. If you start fresh, your finished product will shine. The Brooklyn Sandwich Society (184 Dekalb Avenue, Fort Greene) goes from farm to table - and it doesn’t get much fresher then that. While you can enjoy seasonal sandwiches all year long, if you’re in the mood for something slightly less filling, you should take a peek at the small plates section of the menu. From simply fresh snacks like salted, buttered radishes to braised lamb croquettes, you’ll be happy you headed to Fort Greene for your in-between meal.
More than Raw
When you think of Japanese-style tapas, you immediately remember sushi sashimi plates you’ve had a dozen times. But Izakaya on Smith (176 Smith Street, Cobble Hill) offers Brooklynites Japanese tapas that truly tempt. Enjoy cold plates like Kabocha, a Japanese pumpkin simmered in dashi, or hot plates like Nasu Dongoku, fried eggplant with miso. Whatever temperature you crave, you can rest assured that the typical experience is a long way away.
Up in Smoke
Admit it, hitting the bar every Friday can get a tad trite. Instead of flocking to the closest saloon for bites and brew, why not shake it up and hit a hookah bar? If you try the Red Oak Restaurant (8305 3rd Avenue, Bay Ridge) for your first hookah and tapas experience, you are in for a treat. This spot offers typical Middle Eastern comfort food like hummus and falafel to ease you into the world of hookah lounges and late night eats.
Sometimes our cravings are cut and dry. You know what you want, when you want it and you have every right to get it. Tuffet: Cheese/Meat/Bar (286 Graham Avenue, East Williamsburg) is exactly what it sounds like. Tuffet offers diners a space to enjoy combination platters of their favorite meats and cheeses and paired wine/booze in the outdoor garden or indoor study. If you look to just munch with friends or want tasty bites while you work, a trip to Tuffet will provide you with impeccable tapas that you know you want.
Set your tapas craving amongst the backdrop of a truly beautiful setting. The Castello Plan (1213 Cortelyou Road, Flatbush) will have you wining and dining in a historically rich, beautiful spot. Aptly named after the first map of Manhattan, The Castello Plan is also a pretty accurate blueprint for a tapas bar. The menu is loaded with assortments of cured meats, cheeses and flavorful small plates like stewed mushroom crostini and it offers an impressive wine list to boot.
You can’t have a tapas list without a little Spanish flair. Enter El Mio Cid (50 Starr Street, Bushwick). This Bushwick bar has plates that simmer with authenticity. From the sliced and cured Spanish ham & aged manchengo cheese to the roasted quail in fig sauce, you’ll be in a delightful culinary coma by the time you’re done satisfying your craving.
Get under Bed-Stuy’s voodoo by heading to the sexiest tapas joint in Brooklyn, the Vodou Bar (95 Halsey Street, Bedford Stuyvesant). Expect to lounge, drink and relax in an alluring environment that will have you in a trance in no time. And if you’re hungry on your journey to zen-like coolness, its tapas selection doesn’t disappoint. Elegant Caribbean meals like jerk tofu sliders and plantain and mozzarella gordita plates are the perfect way to fill up while you enjoy signature cocktails and genuine ambiance.